Reflections on Ugandanique gendertitis 

Prof Timothy Wangusa

What you need to know:

‘‘Might there not be incidents of gay carryings-on behind fences of Africa’s traditional palaces?” 

Esteemed readers of Sunday Monitor, you are earnestly invited to come with ‘yours truly’ here on a brief mental excursion into and around the existential phenomenon herein labelled ‘Ugandanique gendertitis’. Our working definitions of these two key terms are: ‘Ugandanique’, that which is specific to Uganda (but general to Africa); and ‘gendertitis’, a personal-socio-biological condition with intrinsic mutative characteristics capable of adversely affecting the inner status and outer profile of the gender of its subject or victim, be it animal or human.

The point of take-off for our exploratory mental excursion is the subject of ‘Anti-Homosexuality Bill’ which has inside this month of March become the talk of the Ugandan nation: in Parliament, among legal experts, human rights and minority groups’ rights advocates, in homes and public arenas, in churches and mosques, in offices and slums, in the food and miscellany markets, on the streets, and everywhere.  

Proposition stand: To protect and defend African and religious values (which, among other things, frown at coupling of man with man, woman with woman); to frame an encompassing and enabling law based on the basic law of the land, the Constitution; and to give more clout to the ‘law and order’ enforcing agency, the police.
Opposition Stance I: The Law professors and legal experts, in learned style, eloquently pointing out the many and absolutely adequate laws already on the country’s statute books, which conclusively render the proposed new law utterly superfluous and unnecessary; and this, regardless of whether or not these law professors and legal experts were not yet born by 2014 when the President of the land assented to the earlier law similar to the one being envisaged by the current Bill.

Opposition Stance II: The human rights and minority groups’ rights activists plus the LGTBQ(IA) ambassadors, vehemently voicing their angry displeasure at the danger posed by the proposed law to individuals’ freedoms of choice and privacy, especially freedom of choice and privacy with regard to what individuals do behind closed doors – or even where there are no doors. 

Fellow explorers on this mental excursion, let us first briefly rewind our clocks to the origin of ‘gendertitis’ among animals here on our beloved continent of Africa. The cruelty to animals in the form of castrating bulls and bullocks into oxen for man’s selfish utilitarian purposes dates to unrecorded times on the continent. The latter-day and current version of this ancient ‘gendertitis’ takes the form of so-called surgical ‘neutering’ of male dogs, goats, sheep, cats, etc. thereby irretrievably altering their gender to the satisfaction of some profiteering merchant or animal-rearing farmer.

On our retrospective continental excursion, we next encounter the monstrous practice of castrating human males into spineless eunuchs. For those who might doubt this fact: to the interior of which continent is this famous eunuch (Treasurer to Candace Queen of Ethiopia) returning home from a pious pilgrimage to Jerusalem around 33 AD?
And is this not the famous African Christian scholar Origen Adamantius of Alexandria (185-254 AD) who piously got someone to castrate him for the purpose of mortifying the flesh in the hope of thereby attaining to the kingdom of heaven? (He literally believed that ‘it is better to enter the kingdom of God maimed than to have your entire soul flung into the flames of eternal anguish’.)

Furthermore, is it not my wonderful Africa that is chronic host to the widespread, de-humanising, and de-womaning practice of female genital mutilation (FGM)? Its end result is ‘abbreviated womanhood’, a mini gender of its own! (We are keenly aware, of course, that foreskin mutilation in Africa’s and the world’s boys and men is not deemed a mutilation but modification and beatification!) 
We might conclude this excursion of ours by asking the question: might there not be incidents of gay/lesbian carryings-on behind some of the concrete walls of Africa’s executive villas, or the reed perimeter fences of Africa’s traditional palaces?

Prof Wangusa is a poet and novelist.                  


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